Was George Washington A Terrorist?

Well, was he?


Michael said...

Well, not really, no. Washington had two main goals during the Revolution: One was to maintain an army in the field, to continue opposition to the British, and the other was to see the formation of a republican-type government in the 13 colonies.

Notice how random attacks on civilian, wanton destruction of towns, and ignoring the people's basic needs aren't on his radar...

Phil said...

George Washington was no terrorist.

He was a Sexual Dynamo.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I think King George would have considered the man a "terrorist".

Of course one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Civilian targets were attacked in the Revolution. Merchant ships. Known loyalists were also targeted.

Michael said...

The targeting of merchant ships was (and still is today) a standard act of war, so long as the ships attacked fly the flag of a belligerent power.

The British attacked colonial (and later, US) flag merchant vessels, and the nascent Americans commissioned privateers (privateers were private ships & crews with gov't authorization to attack trade; without authorization, they were pirates) to attack British trade; it is an old application of an economic weapon.

Attacks on trade shipping were commonplace in WWI and WWII, and affected the course of both of those wars. As late as the Falklands War, the Argentines attacked a merchangt vessel (Atlantic Conveyor) which was assisting the Royal Navy.

The targeting of known loyalists was part of the guerilla aspects of the Revolution, and may have met today's definition of terrorism.

Washington, however, strove very hard to keep the war on the battlefield. George III saw him as a rebel; not a terrorist.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Rebel - terrorist, same thing.

Back in 1776, there was no such thing as a "terrorist" because the word was not invented yet.

So therefore I say that in the context of the world as it was in 1776, "rebel" had the same meaning then as "terrorist" today.

Michael said...

Don't forget that the "rebels" of previous centuries did not behave as the terrorists of today...

Yes, there was guerilla warfare in the Revolution (and the Civil War, etc), but you did not have the wholesale execution of non-combatants simply for the sake of the killing (a recent poll by a palestinian university has shown that, while 60% of palestinians feel the rocket attacks & suicide bombings are useless, 50% of palestinians want to see them continue); previous conflicts did not see non-combatant populations taken as hostages for ransom (a la modern airline hijacking).

The problem with saying "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter," is that the phrase is intellectually lazy; it says that there is no absolute right or wrong, only relatives, and moral relativity just doesn't work; it's an excuse for terrorism.

Some things are wrong. Suicide bombers, wanton rocket attacks, airline hijackings; these are all definitely wrong.

The Lazy Iguana said...

People do things for a reason. A bear does not go out of its way to hunt people, but if you corner one and poke it with a stick bad things will happen.

The problems in the Middle East boil down to an age old conflict. Both groups seem to like to agitate the other group - without any thought to what the results will be.

To the English, Washington was a terrorist, in a sense that he was using violence to change political policies that the civilized would operated under at the time. To Americans, he is the greatest President that ever was or ever can be.

Moral relativism is a fact. There is no absolute right or wrong all the time.

Suicide bus bombs are wrong, but so is an illegal occupation. Using attack helicopters and rockets to blow up entire city blocks to get one person is also wrong. Yet it happens. Is one act more wrong than another? It depends on the side you ask. Each side can "justify" its own actions based on "facts".

This is the problem. You can not say moral relativity does not work and then use moral relativity to say "the other side is more wrong than the side I believe in, so therefore using a tank to tear down homes is perfectly alright".

That is what creates terrorists.

Michael said...

To the English, Washington was a terrorist

Well, no, actually. He was a rebellious subject, but also an officer and a gentleman. English officers knew that Washington could be trusted to parole and exchange war prisoners, and to adhere to temporary truces.

Compare that with Hamas, which declared a "cease-fire" from Gaza last November, but actually increased the rocket fire from there; and which demands that Israel release hundreds of terrorists to get Shalit back, but won't even give proof that Shalit is alive.

Washington also fought for a recognizable goal: Colonial independence.

Hamas's goal (and the PLO's) is to destroy Israel completely; if you doubt me, check out their charter documents:

Hamas: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/hamas.htm

PLO: http://www.netaxs.com/people/iris/plochart.htm

If terrorism is wrong, then it must be opposed to protect the innocent. But how do you successfully oppose people who hide within the civilian population?

Moral relativism is just a way of avoiding the problem. There must be time to say, "This is always wrong."

Today's terrorist groups are always wrong, and bear no comparison to Washington.

Anonymous said...

George Washington followed same tactics like 17th century Freedom seeker, Shivaji (Maharashtra-India) who coroneted himself as the Hindu King. The key difference is George had opportunity to become King of the 13 colonies but he was not enticed for that honor but he did accept the title of President. He did not serve more than one term. In case of Shivaji, almost hundred years ago, had to prove that he was legal sovereign of his people and right on the nose of tyrant Mughal emperor Aurangzeb he declared himself as King of his people.
For further reading: Chhatrapati (King) Shivaji (Title); Setu Madhav Pagdi, India published.
Use google engine and write word
Shivaji and click and you will get several hits.
Dr.Justin E. Abbott (Summit, NJ.) presented his paper for Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vo. 50 (1930) Pg.159-163. Paper title was:
"The 300th Anniversary of the birth of the Maratha King Shivaji."